As I walked in you could see piles of people all through the village They were gathered up into large groups. I saw them shoot an M79 [grenade launcher] into a group of people who were still alive. But it was mostly done with a machine gun. They were shooting women and children just like anybody else. We met no resistance and I only saw three captured weapons.
We had no casualties. As a matter of fact, I don't remember seeing one military-age male in the entire place, dead or alive. One group of 20—50 villagers was herded south of Xom Lang and killed on a dirt road. According to Ronald Haeberle 's eyewitness account of the massacre, in one instance,. All of a sudden the GIs just opened up with M16s. Beside the M16 fire, they were shooting at the people with M79 grenade launchers I couldn't believe what I was seeing.
Lieutenant Calley testified that he heard the shooting and arrived on the scene. He observed his men firing into a ditch with Vietnamese people inside and he then started shooting, with an M16, from a distance of five feet. After that, around After the initial sweeps by 1st and 2nd platoons, 3rd Platoon was dispatched to deal with any "remaining resistance".
During this operation, between 60 and people, including women and children, were killed. Over the next day, both companies were involved in additional burning and destruction of dwellings, as well as mistreatment of Vietnamese detainees. While some soldiers of Charlie Company did not participate in the crimes, they neither openly protested nor complained later to their superiors. William Thomas Allison, a professor of Military History at Georgia Southern University, wrote, "By midmorning, members of Charlie Company had killed hundreds of civilians and raped or assaulted countless women and young girls.
They encountered no enemy fire and found no weapons in My Lai itself". They landed their helicopter by a ditch, which they noted was full of bodies and in which there was movement. Thompson, shocked and confused, then spoke with Calley, who claimed to be "just following orders". As the helicopter took off, Thompson saw Mitchell firing into the ditch. Thompson and his crew witnessed an unarmed woman being kicked and shot at point-blank range by Captain Medina, who later claimed that he thought she had a hand grenade. Thompson landed and told his crew that if the soldiers shot at the Vietnamese while he was trying to get them out of the bunker that they were to open fire on these soldiers.
Thompson later testified that he spoke with a lieutenant identified as Stephen Brooks of 2nd Platoon and told him there were women and children in the bunker, and asked if the lieutenant would help get them out. According to Thompson, "he [the lieutenant] said the only way to get them out was with a hand grenade".
Thompson testified that he then told Brooks to "just hold your men right where they are, and I'll get the kids out. A crew member, Glenn Andreotta entered the ditch and returned with a bloodied but apparently unharmed four-year old girl, who was flown to safety. Watke, using terms such as "murder" and "needless and unnecessary killings. Glenn Andreotta was awarded his medal posthumously, as he was killed in Vietnam on 8 April In March , the helicopter crew's medals were replaced by the Soldier's Medal , the highest the U.
Army can award for bravery not involving direct conflict with the enemy. The medal citations state they were "for heroism above and beyond the call of duty while saving the lives of at least 10 Vietnamese civilians during the unlawful massacre of non-combatants by American forces at My Lai". Thompson initially refused the medal when the U. Army wanted to award it quietly. He demanded it be done publicly and that his crew also be honored in the same way. After returning to base at about Barker radioed his executive officer to find out from Captain Medina what was happening on the ground.
Medina then gave the cease-fire order to Charlie Company to "cut [the killing] out - knock it off". Since Thompson made an official report of the civilian killings, he was interviewed by Colonel Oran Henderson, the commander of the 11th Infantry Brigade the parent organization of the 20th Infantry. Koster, sent a congratulatory message to Company C. Later, he changed his stance, writing in his memoir that it was "the conscious massacre of defenseless babies, children, mothers, and old men in a kind of diabolical slow-motion nightmare that went on for the better part of a day, with a cold-blooded break for lunch".
Owing to the chaotic circumstances of the war and the U. Estimates vary from source to source, with and being the most commonly cited figures. A later investigation by the U.
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The official estimate by the local government remains Initial reports claimed " Viet Cong and 22 civilians" had been killed in the village during a "fierce fire fight". As relayed at the time by Stars and Stripes magazine, "U. Helicopter gunships and artillery missions supported the ground elements throughout the day. Henderson interviewed several soldiers involved in the incident, then issued a written report in late-April claiming that some 20 civilians were inadvertently killed during the operation. The Army at this time was still describing the event as a military victory that had resulted in the deaths of enemy combatants.
It would indeed be terrible to find it necessary to believe that an American soldier that harbors such racial intolerance and disregard for justice and human feeling is a prototype of all American national character; yet the frequency of such soldiers lends credulity to such beliefs. What has been outlined here I have seen not only in my own unit, but also in others we have worked with, and I fear it is universal.
If this is indeed the case, it is a problem which cannot be overlooked, but can through a more firm implementation of the codes of MACV Military Assistance Command Vietnam and the Geneva Conventions, perhaps be eradicated. In his report, Powell wrote, "In direct refutation of this portrayal is the fact that relations between Americal Division soldiers and the Vietnamese people are excellent.
I got there after My Lai happened. So, in war, these sorts of horrible things happen every now and again, but they are still to be deplored. Defense Department investigated press coverage of alleged atrocities committed in South Vietnam. In August , the page report "Alleged Atrocities by U. Military Forces in South Vietnam" was completed. No further action was taken. Independently of Glen, Specialist 5 Ronald L. Ridenhour , a former door gunner from the Aviation Section, Headquarters Company, 11th Infantry Brigade, sent a letter in March to thirty members of Congress imploring them to investigate the circumstances surrounding the "Pinkville" incident.
At one point, they hovered over a dead Vietnamese woman with a patch of the 11th Brigade on her body. As members of Congress called for an inquiry and news correspondents abroad expressed their horror at the massacre, the General Counsel of the Army Robert Jordan was tasked with speaking to the press. He refused to confirm allegations against Calley.
Noting the significance of the fact that the statement was given at all, Bill Downs of ABC News said it amounted to the first public expression of concern by a "high defense official" that American troops "might have committed genocide. Peers was appointed by the Secretary of the Army and the Army Chief of Staff to conduct a thorough review of the My Lai incident, 16—19 March , and its investigation by the Army.
The evidence indicates that only 3 or 4 were confirmed as Viet Cong although there were undoubtedly several unarmed VC men, women, and children among them and many more active supporters and sympathizers. One man from the company was reported as wounded from the accidental discharge of his weapon. Critics of the Peers Report pointed out that it sought to place the real blame on four officers who were already dead, foremost among them the commander of Task Force Barker, LTC Frank Barker, who was killed in a mid-air collision on 13 June In May , a sergeant who participated in Operation Speedy Express wrote a confidential letter to then Army Chief of Staff Westmoreland describing civilian killings he said were on the scale of the massacre occurring as "a My Lai each month for over a year" during — Two other letters to this effect from enlisted soldiers to military leaders in , all signed "Concerned Sergeant", were uncovered within declassified National Archive documents.
The letters describe common occurrences of civilian killings during population pacification operations. Army policy also stressed very high body counts and this resulted in dead civilians being marked down as combatants. Alluding to indiscriminate killings described as unavoidable, the commander of the 9th Division, then Major General Julian Ewell , in September , submitted a confidential report to Westmoreland and other generals describing the countryside in some areas of Vietnam as resembling the battlefields of Verdun. In July , the Office of Provost Marshal General of the Army began to examine the evidence collected by the General Peers inquiry regarding possible criminal charges.
Eventually, Calley was charged with several counts of premeditated murder in September , and 25 other officers and enlisted men were later charged with related crimes. On 17 November , a court-martial in the United States charged 14 officers, including Major General Samuel Koster, the Americal Division's commanding officer, with suppressing information related to the incident.
Most of the charges were later dropped. During the four-month-long trial, Lieutenant Calley consistently claimed that he was following orders from his commanding officer, Captain Medina. Despite that, he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison on 29 March , after being found guilty of premeditated murder of not fewer than twenty people.
Two days later, President Richard Nixon made the controversial decision to have Calley released from armed custody at Fort Benning , Georgia, and put under house arrest pending appeal of his sentence. Court of Military Appeals in In August , Calley's sentence was reduced by the Convening Authority from life to twenty years. Calley would eventually serve three and one-half years under house arrest at Fort Benning including three months in a disciplinary barracks in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
In a separate trial, Captain Medina denied giving the orders that led to the massacre, and was acquitted of all charges, effectively negating the prosecution's theory of " command responsibility ", now referred to as the "Medina standard". Several months after his acquittal, however, Medina admitted he had suppressed evidence and had lied to Colonel Henderson about the number of civilian deaths. Captain Kotouc, an intelligence officer from 11th Brigade, was also court-martialed and found not guilty. Major General Koster was demoted to brigadier general and lost his position as the Superintendent of West Point.
His deputy, Brigadier General Young, received a letter of censure. Both were stripped of Distinguished Service Medals which had been awarded for service in Vietnam. Of the 26 men initially charged, Lieutenant Calley was the only one convicted.
Howard Callaway , Secretary of the Army, was quoted in The New York Times in as stating that Calley's sentence was reduced because Calley honestly believed that what he did was a part of his orders—a rationale that contradicts the standards set at Nuremberg and Tokyo, where following orders was not a defense for committing war crimes.
Army from January to August for crimes against civilians in Vietnam. The destruction was officially attributed to "Viet Cong terrorists". The truth was revealed by Quaker service workers in the area through testimony in May by Martin Teitel at hearings before the Congressional Subcommittee to Investigate Problems Connected with Refugees and Escapees in South Vietnam.
Some of them expressed regrets without acknowledging any personal guilt, as, for example, Ernest Medina, who said, "I have regrets for it, but I have no guilt over it because I didn't cause it. That's not what the military, particularly the United States Army, is trained for.
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There is no such thing. Not in the military. If I go into a combat situation and I tell them, 'No, I'm not going. The band was almost larger than the audience. And we went out there and played our hearts out. At the end of the gig our crew backed our rental truck into the marquee and every penny we made had to go to the replacement of that.
I can laugh about it now, but at the time it was almost tragic. We were headlining this tour in Australia and New Zealand. People were booing and throwing things at them, and that was difficult enough. Anyway, we finally got on stage and we were five songs into the show when David Byrne ran off and refused to come back on. David had a lot of temper tantrums when he got to be a big star.
He couldn't stop it; fame and the whole diva thing was just overwhelming for him. There was meant to be a great big party afterwards and David didn't even show up. It was just this really sad, dismal affair where people got quietly drunk in the corner. It was awful that everything we'd been working towards ended like that. It was horrendous, from start to finish. The journey was awful because I got the wrong gate, then I got on the plane, perspiring, having held up an entire plane of journalists.
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And the gig was terrible. I'd just got the record contract I'd always dreamed of, I'd started writing songs, and I'd done the Jubilee gig at Buckingham Palace. I felt like I was singing at a wedding, and not even a good wedding. There were about 30 people there. I remember singing Light My Fire , squeezing between the diners in the restaurant and perching down on this woman's lap. I felt like the turn after a conference where the attendees are members of a line-dancing club. Still, everyone was very nice. I'd never go back there, to that dark, dark time. I think about it quite a lot — when I'm singing at Bestival and the stage is sinking I think: It was in the middle of nowhere, and we were accosted before the gig by a skinhead who had a copy with him of the skinhead bible Spirit of '69 , which he wanted me to sign.
I wanted to write "Which bit of 2-Tone didn't you get? I thought it was quite funny, and I thought he might see the funny side of it. Unfortunately, he didn't, and about two songs in he opened up his book to show another member of the audience, and the place, which was pretty packed, saw red, because they thought I'd defiled his skinhead bible. Suddenly, the venue was split down the middle: We had Brad from the Specials drumming with us, and he was well worried.
So we had to stay inside the venue for quite a long time. Gigs are meant to be edgy, and I never want to preach to the converted. But when you're in a place where the tumbleweed blows through the car park, you rather wish they were all converted. We played a strawberry festival , where they actually judge strawberries, with taste tests and everything. It was also the most awkward gig we've ever done. We had to perform without any sound equipment. We didn't get angry and smash the place up, no. But we did get asked to judge the winning strawberry as compensation for the bad sound. The winning strawberry was fantastic.
You used to get extra money for playing in Scotland because it was so dangerous, although luckily the Scots took to us early on. We were in this brand new room with parquet flooring, and this fight broke out. I'd never seen anything like it — 1, people, everybody punching everyone else: And we were onstage and there was no way out.
The worst gig we ever played: musicians on their on-stage lows
Luckily someone told us to get our stuff, get out, and come back in the morning. We didn't argue, we just left. We came back in the morning and these 20 old washer-women were there in a line, on their knees, scrubbing the blood out of this lovely new parquet floor. We knew something was wrong when we were told to park in the alley and unload our gear for the gig and then when we came out afterwards the police had written parking tickets on the tour van.
Then this guy pulled a gun on my drummer and said he'd come to collect his money. So he got his money. We'd been in America with Alice Cooper as special guests on his Welcome to My Nightmare tour , that was 80 shows, then we went to Scandinavia, then we flew to Japan for some shows, then to Australia for a month, then we went to New Zealand — we were on the road for about six months non-stop. New Zealand was the last port of call and we were flying through the night when I noticed a little spot on my leg — I thought I'd got bitten. Then I woke up and the spot was travelling up my leg in a line: This was the day of the gig.
The doctor had to cut me, but I still went onstage with the poison pouring out, in all my leathers! It's called being a pro. The show must go on and all that. But this was the only time I ever thought I shouldn't have gone on. It was really painful. I was on painkillers and the dressing had to keep being changed. We agreed to do this gig in Italy for a fashion party, but no one there was even remotely interested in anything going on onstage — they were more interested in what they were wearing.
There was one really well-built, muscly man wearing a short man-skirt that looked not so much gladiator fierce but gym-trash trying to be fashion. Luckily I could see the funny side of it. Another time, on the Ta-Dah tour, we were scheduled to play this festival in Germany. We were on before Kraftwerk, and we were not what the minimal house-heads wanted.
Everything I said on stage went down like a lead balloon, and I got the feeling nobody understood what I was saying, so I started using the biggest words I could think of. At the end I said: Obviously, being young, I just wanted to have a good time and hang out with my friends. And the head of our record label, Mushroom, was coming there specifically to see us play, and possibly give us a deal. It was slightly disconcerting knowing the label head was there.
It was a gig with Robbie Williams. He was pushed off stage by a fan who thought he was an impostor because he'd dyed his hair black. We had four SAS members looking after Rob's security and none of them managed to stop this guy running on the stage and pushing Robbie off the stage into the pit. He was quite shaken up, but he went straight back on stage.
He doesn't give up easily. He can be quite tasty, can Robbie: I played this gig with Canterbury Glass , who were booked to play a club at this shotgun wedding. The two families weren't very happy with each other, put it that way. French troops moving a howitzer during the Battle of Verdun. Another lost a third of its strength in just 36 hours.
Some 1, trains shipped in 2. A further two million shells were stockpiled, awaiting transportation. It was the largest concentration of artillery in history. At 4am on February 21, under a full moon, the first shots were fired by three massive guns, hitting Verdun itself and destroying the railway station.
After nine hours, the barrage ceased and German assault troops rose from their trenches and moved forward across the shattered ground, some armed with a new weapon of horror, the flame-thrower, making its battlefield debut. French trenches burned, with men inside them. In that first onslaught, the French line was pushed back a mile. Over the next three days, they would be forced to retreat a further three miles.
From one 15,strong division, 9, men were dead, wounded or missing. Badly injured bodies lay everywhere, with field ambulances unable to cope and the roads back to the hospitals made impassable by shelling. After five days, it looked all over for the French. Fort Douaumont, one of their key strongholds, fell to the Germans and morale plummeted. Civilians began pouring out of Verdun itself, fearing the city was about to fall.
Troops in the trenches around the fortress of Verdun preparing for attack.
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The German soldier Ernst Toller wrote: A French soldier in the Battle of Verdun pictured in an advanced trench protected by barbed wire, watching the enemy positions through a periscope. And, indeed, it might have made sense for the French to concede Verdun at this point, to pull back their depleted but still relatively intact army and regroup in the Forest of Argonne closer to Paris. But, as Von Falkenhayn had predicted, French pride got the better of military sense.
From Paris, the order came to hold Verdun at all costs. The deadly pattern was set that would prolong this battle from five days to more than and increase the toll of casualties fold. However, the Germans were beginning to feel the pinch of their rapid advance. The fighting had been so fierce that they had lost as many men as the French — roughly 25, apiece at this point — and were losing momentum.
By getting ahead of themselves, they were also losing the protection of their biggest guns, left static at the rear and unable to be moved forward because the ground had been torn up. French counter-attacks, unhampered by artillery bombardment, were increasingly successful. The battle now settled into trench warfare, the exchanging of mortar fire and a series of vicious encounters to secure vantage points in which machine gunners mowed down advancing enemy soldiers.
Shellfire churned the battlefield into a muddy moonscape and sent men, cowering in trenches, mad. The air was unbreathable. Our blinded and wounded soldiers kept falling on top of us and died while splashing us with their blood. It was a living hell. Some deaths were even more pointless than others, the result of blunders. Deep inside the captured Fort Douaumont, German soldiers brewed up coffee on a table improvised from boxes of cordite, starting a fire which spread to a store of flame-thrower fuel and then to an ammunition magazine.
The chamber exploded, killing men. With no hope of recovering the bodies from the fire, the area was sealed off and left. A further 1, wounded managed to get away but some of these were shot by their own side as they fled from the fort. With their soot-blackened faces, they were mistaken for African troops fighting for the French. The French tried to storm and recapture Douaumont but failed, at a cost of thousands of lives. The Germans responded by assaulting Fort Vaux, another of the concrete strongholds, but the French soldiers crammed inside held out in appalling conditions. The French garrison gave in only after they ran out of water and had resorted to drinking their own urine.
French soldiers pictured resting during their defence of Verdun. Prince Max of Baden, who as German Chancellor requested an armistice between Germany and the Allied powers, said the Verdun campaign 'ended in bitter disillusionment'. The ruined town and cathedral of Verdun.